Kenya’s Nelson Mandela regrets never having met his South African namesake

Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann expressed his desire to have met the former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, during the Ashes pre-Test dinner in Adelaide. But he is not the only cricketer disappointed never to have come face-to-face with the great man.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (Photo credit: Festival Karsh Ottawa)

For one 25-year-old who has played 8 ODIs and 8T20Is for the Kenyan side, Nelson Mandela Odhiambo, a lifelong ambition will now never be fulfilled.

“It is indeed a sad news”, said the Kenyan Mandela on Friday. “I heard the news from my uncle this morning.

‘I am honoured to be having my name associated with the legendary man”, he continued. “He was a big name and in comparison, I am a very small man in Kenya”.

“This name (Nelson Mandela) was given to my by my grandfather (Joseph Migai) when I was born”, he says proudly. “I was given this name when Nelson Mandela toured Kenya after being released from prison and has stuck ever since”.


Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993.

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Former India captain Ajit Wadekar very well remembers the team’s first meeting with Nelson Mandela.

“I was a manager / coach of India’s tour of South Africa in 1992″, he said. “One day prior to our our match the entire team went to his office and chatted with him for sometime.

“He inquired about the Indians back home and recalled his imprisoned days”.

‘He came on ground to inaugurate the match on the next day and met captain Azharuddin and of course Sachin Tendulkar”, he remembered. “I was a bit far but he did wish the Indian team to perform well in the Test”.

Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night and minutes silences were observed in both the ongoing Test matches (Ashes Test) in Adelaide and in Dunedin where New Zealand are playing West Indies. Respects will also be paid when South Africa play their next ODI against India in Durban on Sunday.

Bipin Dani

A Civil Engineer by profession, Bipin is also a senior cricket journalist in India.
He has toured UAE, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Malaysia, to name a few, and contributes to a large number of newspapers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
His twitter bio reads: Eat cricket stories, drink cricket stories, sleep cricket stories.

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